The Townhouses, Units or even Villas ,if you like, are pleasing to look at. They are simple and without pretension. That’s why we decided to buy one and move in. The architect or designer avoided the temptation to put in Tudor, Cape Cod, English cottage, or absurd Mediternean touches. They all have a small entrance. When one squints, it could even pass as a front-porch. During torrential downpours the front doors will stay dry. However, if the entrance was any smaller it could well be called an overhanging eave.
The area that we live in is proudly Australian or English in origin. It is rare that one hears a foreign accent. It was a very traditional area for the well-heeled and warm retired from Sydney to move to. The climate is cold in winter and pleasant in summer. Many houses have brass names screwed on the front gates reflecting a Scottish or English Heritage with names either ending in Brae or starting with Rose. It is not unusual to sometimes notice an elderly gentleman wearing a double breasted dark blue jacket with brass buttons, especially leaving the Sunday morning service with a smiling Reverend shaking hands with some of his more solid members of the congregations. We are somewhat out of the loupe, which would not be the case if we lived in Sydney. Not that the locals are not friendly. There is just this slight draw- back when our accents are noticed but in most cases it is immediately followed by a friendly demeanour.
I am still trying to get a handle on why the locals in our compound were so hostile to getting things done logically and with reasonable care and diligence. One remembers the Body Corporate and Department of Fair trading during the height of the dispute about painters. I am beginning to think that our own heritage might have something to do with it. The sheer numbers of Continental Europeans that were soaked up elsewhere did not happen here in Bowral. This area always remained solidly conventional and stoically conservative and very loyal to the Queen of England. Don’t mention the idea of a Republic here. Even the meat pies here are graced with Royal awards and ‘Princess Diane had a pie in this shop’ blessings.
It has its rituals and unwritten laws of behaviour and compliance. There is order in neatness of gardens and short clipped glorious lawns with obligatory Camellias. We all obey the laws of nature strips at the front on which the garbage bins are put out in strict order and times. Not a day before and always removed back out ofsight within an hour of garbage being collected. The dogs are walked with the obligatory plastic bags tied to the leash. We greet each other and say ‘morning’ or ‘good-day’.
I am just mentioning it while contemplating a lovely Virginia creeper. It is the last one. All of our eight townhouses were planted originally by a landscape expert and like the townhouses did have some unity and simplicity. However, some years ago all the planted Virginia creepers were taken out. One can still see the suckers clinging to some walls. However, our creeper defied the odds against the hands ripping the item out and survived. We keenly look forward to Autumn. The Virginia creeper shows its height of beauty during fall, in its splendid exhibition of burn orange to crimson red foliage.
We have been told that this creeper and it’s friend the ivy are capable of causing havoc and worse, to lower the ‘value’. Value is a word that our neighbours often use. Ivy and all creepers will wreck and damage walls and fences, they said and took them out. The painting was all talked about in maintaining value. We happen to mention that we like ivy and also our Virginia Creeper. We further said we prefer the wall left unpainted if it means removing the last of the creepers. I noticed the look of someone as if we were praising something odious or very brown in colour. I added that perhaps some of the paint could be left behind for us to use if the creeper dies.
We wait with some trepidation when our wall with its creeper will remain unpainted.” Over my dead body”, Helvi said.
We prefer the creeper to a coat of PVA acrylic, even if the paint is called ‘Solar Guard’.
We will placate as much as possible, and at the Christmas party that someone always organises, I will add some extra chilli to the marinate of the chicken wings.
Lots of Chilli and loads of Spanish garlic.